If you’re planning on going to some of the most breathtaking places on earth, then the Galapagos archipelago should be something to check out. Located just a thousand kilometers off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago is home to diverse rare and common wildlife species that draw the attention of tourists from all parts of the world. 

Also said to be a source of inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection in 1935, the Galapagos archipelago provides a good vacation location for adventurous risk-takers and science enthusiasts. However, since the Galapagos archipelago is home to 127 different islands, it’s quite easy to lose track of what particular islands to visit.

Luckily for you, we have rounded up the best Galapagos archipelago islands worth visiting in 2023. Check them out.

galapagos islands
Copyright: Alexis Ricardo Alaurin on Pexels I License: CC0 Public Domain

Espanola Island

Espanola Island is known as the oldest island in the Galapagos archipelago. Formed over four million years ago, the Espanola emerged from a single caldera in the center of the island. The volcano became leveled with time, and as a result, it is now one of the flattest islands in the Galapagos.

If you’re a huge fan of snorkeling, Tortuga Bay is the perfect location in Espanola for you to explore. It is one of the best islands to visit on any one of your trips to Galapagos islands where you can watch sea lions and rare exotic fish. 

Punta Suarez is a must-visit location in Espanola, especially if you’re an enthusiastic bird watcher. The Espanola is said to be the only place in the world where you will find a waved albatross nest! It’s best to visit this tourist delight anytime from April to December.

Punta Suarez
Punta Suarez. Photo via Canva PRO

Sierra Negra Volcano

Known also as the “black mountain,” Sierra Negra is one of the six active volcanoes on Isabela Island with an enormous crater. It is also one of the most popular hiking trails in the Galapagos. You can mostly find exotic birds on the Sierra Negra volcano, such as mockingbirds, flycatchers, and finches. You can even see the famous giant tortoise or a Galapagos hawk if you’re lucky.

The most popular activity on the Sierra Negra is hiking the trail up to the crater rim. The view from there is simply breathtaking. You could rent a horse if walking up the path is too strenuous for you. There’s no specific time of the year to visit. The volcano can be visited at any time of the year; it all depends on your choice. 

Visiting in May might mean hiking in warmer and wetter weather. June is cooler and drier in the Sierra Negra volcano.

Sierra Negra
Sierra Negra Volcano. Photo via Canva PRO

Santa Fe

Although it is a small island, Santa Fe is one of the best locations for wildlife spotting on the Galapagos archipelago. On Santa Fe island, you can find all sorts of unique animal species, such as the Barrington land iguana and the Barrington leaf-toe gecko. Some endemic species, like the Santa Fe marine iguana and Santa Fe rice rat, can also be found here. 

Iguana on a rock in Santa Fe island,
Iguana on a rock in Santa Fe island, photo via Canva PRO

When visiting, keep in mind that most of the wildlife you’ll find in Santa Fe cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is a collage of exotic species of different families and sizes. For relaxation, you could visit the turquoise beaches and watch seals and sea lions lazing about. 

Santiago’s Cousin’s Rock

With its strong currents and unique rock topography, advanced and expert divers will find Cousin’s Rock a very good location for scuba diving. 

The black corals, algae, flora, fauna, and colorful clams that cover the jagged rock pieces can be found in only a few other places. You can also find rare and endemic species such as Galapagos seahorses, octopuses, hammerheads, Galápagos sharks, green sea Tortoises, eagle rays, barracudas, and a diverse variety of fish.

galapagos sunset
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Isabela Island

You can’t have a fulfilling vacation on the Galapagos archipelago if you do not make a quick stop at its largest island, the famous Isabela Island.

Although this island covers almost 58 percent of the Galapagos archipelago, it is surprisingly not the most popular tourist destination. The island itself consists of six active volcanoes, with the Volcano Wolf being the tallest and highest point in the archipelago. This island is home to penguins, pink flamingos, flightless cormorants, and the famous Galapagos tortoise.

Isabella Island
Isabella island. Photo via canva PRO

Get Packed for a Great Time in the Galapagos Archipelago 

Since the Galapagos archipelago is filled with popular hiking trails, taking a vacation requires a reasonable fitness level. 

If you plan to visit one of the hiking areas, it will pay you to dress accordingly and have the necessary hiking gear. These include sunglasses and hats; a water bottle holding a few liters of water; energy bars; some insect repellent; a camera for taking pictures.